Yankee Harbour and Halfmoon Bay in Antarctica

My last day in Antarctica

It is our last day in Antarctica on the Sea Spirit, then we head back through the Drake Passage to Ushuaia. (Zum deutschen Blog.) We´ll spend it in Yankee Harbour and Halfmoon Bay.

Perhaps this is the reason that I got up today on the wrong foot (as we say in Germany). The water in the shower hasn´t got the right temperature, I forgot to charge the second battery of my camera and so it goes on. My husband Dirk suspects me to be a small Christmas Gremlin …

Antarctica, Yankee Harbour, Sea Spirit
The Sea Spirit in front of Yankee Harbour
Yankee Harbour

The Zodiacs bring us on the land of this island. We are not alone here. In the sheltered bay a sailboat has already anchored, but no one from the crew can be seen.

It is high tide when we land. As usual a penguin committee welcomes us.

Antarctica, Yankee Harbour, Skua
Skua in Yankee Harbour

With the help of some remains we can see that this island was formerly used by whale or seal hunters. A rusted ton serves as a fresh water reservoir for a skua. One of the penguin doesn´t seem to like that, as he chases the skua with loud noises.

Not far from there mostly young elephant seals recover from the nightly hunt for krill, which then rises from the depths of the Southern Ocean. So the seals and sea elephants do not need to dive so deeply. And who might say something against a nice morning snooze in the warm sun ?!

Antarctica, Yankee Harbour, elephant seals
Elephant Seals in Yankee Harbour

The penguin breeding grounds stretch over the whole island. They seem to be very successful here and there must be plenty of food for the black and white journeymen, because some breeding pairs already have quite big chicks, some even two. And all have in common that they are always hungry and they lift their little beaks to their parents. They are so cute and cuddly! Small gray-white feather balls!

Antarctica, Yankee Island, gentoo penguins with chicks
Gentoo penguins with chicks

On the beach, our fellow travelers spread very quickly and silence returns, if one doesn´t count the shouting of the penguins.

I watch a chinstrap penguin, who probably jumped up on a steep rock during high tide and now cannot jump down. In any case, he constantly looks around and seems to ask himself what he really does here.

Antarctica, Yankee Harbour, chinstrap penguin
Chinstrap penguin on the rocks 😉

We enjoy the sun on this stony beach. We got a lot of time. Nevertheless, I would like to take another look at the elephant seals, because some of them make deep sounds that reverberate on the beach. What is going on?

Since earlier, it looks hardly different. The massive animals seem to have hardly moved from the spot. Sometimes a sleepy one lifts its head or blinks at us. Occasionally a little sand is scooped over the body with the front flippers to alleviate the heat of the sun a little. They sniff and snore in their sleep.

Turning around they snort. Further up one lays that is barely visible, but then it raises its head once and lets out one of these deep buzzing sounds.

Anatarktis, Yankee Island, Seeelefanten, Eseslpinguine
elephant seals and gentoo penguins at Yankee Harbour

I could sit here much longer! I can completely relax while watching these pleasant animals, which are underwater so agile and supple swimmers.

Low tide has set in, and a lot of drifting ice has been driven into the bay. We got to wade through it to get to the Zodiacs. It´s so good that we got the thick boots that were lent to us on the first day of our trip.

Halfmoon Bay is not far away. Warmly bundled up in a blanket, I take lunch on the sun deck. During this time, the captain takes course on the last landing place of this expedition.

Antarctica, Halfmoon Bay, view
View over Halfmoon Bay
Halfmoon Bay

This island got its name from the natural shape of the bay, which is reminiscent of a crescent. On one side there is once again a at the moment unoccupied station of the Argentineans. Some mast or position marks I can see on the mountain ridges.

Antarctica, Halfmoon Bay, Argentine Station
Argentine station at Halfmoon Bay

The tried and tested red flags show us the way to the breeding colonies. Here I cannot see any chicks, or they are better guarded by the parents, because here too many seagulls fly around.

Antarctica, halfmoon Bay, kelp gull
Kelp gull in Halfmoon Bay

The Chinese lecturer Ma, a keen ornithologist walks quickly to the outer tip of the island, because there a lone Macaroni Penguin should hang around for several years. They are recognizable by yellow head feathers. This species nests otherwise not in this region, which is why it was always sighted alone. Ma promises to the first one who spots it a drink, but unfortunately our group has no luck today.

Antarctica, Halfmoon Bay, chinstrap penguin
chinstrap penguin in Halfmoon Bay

My husband Dirk and I marvel again about the penguins, who stamped many penguin highways in the ground. So they get better on the mountain tops where they breed.

We would like to enjoy a little peace and solitude, before we arrive back in Ushuaia in two days.

We therefore sit on large rocks directly at the waterfront and watch the tireless penguins waddle back and forth.

Behind me lays an old, broken boat of the seal hunters. It´s only good that this time is over and the stock of most animals has recovered. Only the great whales are far from back to the level of before the industrial hunting. Soon it is similar to many fish stocks. Do people never learn from their mistakes?

Antarctica, Halfmoon Bay, whaling boat
old whaling boat left to rot at Halfmoon Bay

Slowly the water rises. Suddenly there is a big splash right in front of my feet. Three penguins jump out of the water right in front of me. How good that my GoPro is ready for use!

The three lively fellows cannot be disturbed and just walk around. Then they waddled away happily. What a happy ending of this day.

Why had the day started so stupid? I don´t know it anymore. But I do know that I am going to miss this space and tranquility.

Antarctica, Halfmoon Bay, rocks
bizarre rocks at Halfmoon Bay


For more photos go to my German blog or on Instagram. I appriciate your comments and your “like”!

Yoga, Antarctica, Halfmoon Bay
Human and penguin doing yoga together 😉

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